As the group’s CEO, Robert Bury, explained to 7 Action News, the story took a long time to tell because the amount of perspectives they wanted to be involved. Nearly 500 oral stories were collected in conjunction with the historical data, relics and models created for the exhibition.
Bury said he hopes people come with an open mind.
“You should come with the perspective that you want to understand the story, and really embrace what happened in the past 100 years,” said Bury, “and what the opportunities are for the next 50 years.”
The experience could take hours for some, depending on how involved you get with the interactive displays.
The reading material alone could keep you busy for an extended period of time, but the highlights of the exhibition are the interactive pieces.
A mock tank is at the center of the showroom floor. During hundreds of interviews, person after person brought up the shocking feeling that overtook them when they saw a tank driving down civilian streets. It quickly became a focal point of the room, and the storytelling surrounding it.
Visitors can push a button and the tank comes to life with a stylized-cartoon as real-life Detroiters explain how they saw the riots unfold from their homes, on the streets, and elsewhere. If you listen, you’ll also hear the perspective of police and the National Guardsman who actually drove the tank.
In another section of the exhibit, there is a recreation of a real 1967 Detroit storefront. When you walk in front of it, you see the shadows of locals looking inside before someone breaks the front glass with a brick — as the sounds echo throughout the hallway, you see a second person begin to loot items from the front, before another starts a fire. You then hear police sirens, and flashing lights.
There are also interactive touch screens to read, including special “myth buster” sections, and countless video screens to watch and take in new details and perspectives from various sources. Those perspectives are what Bury said is the most important.
“People had such vivid memories — and most of those people have been Detroiters ever since.”
Noted academicians, authors, and community leaders have helped guide the new exhibit. In addition to a partnership with WXYZ, a number of non-profits have been involved throughout including: the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, New Detroit and the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion.
A number of activities are scheduled for the "Detroit 67: Perspectives" opening starting on June 24 through June 30, 2017. A ticketed opening preview is slated for Friday, followed by special community appreciation programming and activities on Saturday and Sunday. Curator chats and other facilitated discussions and programs will be available Monday, June 26 through Friday, June 30.